Rosie O’Donnell showed up on Andy Cohen’s Watch What Happens this week to promote her co-starring role in the new American Gigolo series on Showtime, but now we feel bad for her.
The iconic out comedian, actress, and former talk show host sat down to dish with the Bravo host when he popped a question from viewer Ryan B.
Cohen quoted: “‘I loved your iconic Lebanese moment with Ellen DeGeneres on The Rosie O’Donnell Show. But why were you never a guest on Ellen’s show during its 20-year run?'”
“Were you really never?” Cohen asked.
“Never,” a forlorn O’Donnell replied, shaking her head.
“Did they not ask?”
O’Donnell’s fellow WWH guest Kevin from The Office, Kevin Malone, stared in shock.
O’Donnell welcomed DeGeneres on her own talk show in 1996, when the still-in-the-the-closet comedian and star of ABC’s sitcom Ellen teased she’d be coming out on the show as “Lebanese.” Ellen’s blockbuster “I’m gay” moment, delivered to the world “accidentally” over an airport PA, came soon after.
Cohen couldn’t even believe it: “Really?”
O’Donnell explained: “No, like we had a little bit of a weird thing. After my show went off the air and hers was coming on the air, Larry King was on with Ellen.”
O’Donnell pulled out her best impression of the fellow New York-born, gravel-voiced TV and radio host.
“He said: ‘Whatever happened to Rosie O’Donnell? Her show went down the tubes. She came out as a lesbian and disappeared.’ And Ellen said, and I’m quoting, ‘I don’t know Rosie. We’re not friends.'”
The air went out of the room.
O’Donnell, hand on Kevin’s, recalled: “And I was in bed with Kelly, and I went, ‘Did I just hear that or was that like a hallucination, auditory voice?’ No. And that’s what happened and it hurt my feelings like a baby. And I never really got over it.”
O’Donnell said she was asked to be a guest on DeGeneres’ talk show once – “towards the end” – to promote the short-lived Showtime sitcom SMILF, in which O’Donnell had a co-starring role.
“But I wanted to bring someone with me because I thought it might be a little less awkward, right?” explained O’Donnell. “And they didn’t want to do that.”
Ever gracious, O’Donnell added of Ellen: “I wish her all good things in her life, and that she should be well.”
Kevin nodded in agreement.